Downgrades & Dumb Phones

It has been exactly one year since I left my blackberry in a cab. I remember the bleary fumble for my phone on the bedside table and realizing it wasn’t there. It was interesting how quickly I geared into awake mode. I jumped out of bed and searched my purse, the pockets of my jacket, the laundry basket, the kitchen, the bathroom, under the bed, scouring my apartment for its whereabouts. My roommates boyfriend saw me looking and asked what was up and as cool-y as possible I said “I think my phone may have fallen out of my pocket in the cab”. I was in shambles on the inside, it felt like my whole life was on that phone. Which was precisely the problem.

I spent a lot of time that day thinking about what to do next. I love technology and gadgets so the first thought was just to upgrade to something new and snazzy. An Android perhaps or the ubiquitous iPhone. Then I remembered a dinner I had around Christmas time and the appalling smart phone behaviour displayed there. A kind but awkward girl was sharing a story of her personal struggles. She was on the verge of tears, telling it with pleading eyes that seemed to say ‘I have been hurt really badly and need to be able to share this somewhere safe’. There were three other people in the room. Two were encouraging and listening attentively, the other was paying half attention and tweeting on his iPhone. I wanted to crack the screens of every iPhone with the screams of my indignation at that moment. It was so rude, and it’s so common.

Thinking back on that memory I decided to do the thing I didn’t want to and downgrade to a simple phone. Just calls and texts. It has a camera but a really crappy one. To be honest, I hate it. I hate its stupid keyboard. I hate that it won’t let me change the menu around. I hate that I can’t tweet anymore. I hate that it takes the worst pictures and it connects to the internet in a way that makes me want to throw it across the room. I realized quickly though that the “life” that I had lost on my phone didn’t really have anything to do with living. I love that I’m not tied to email. I love that not having yelp or google maps at the ready causes me to know my city better and find places to eat with my eyes instead of by stranger’s opinions. I love that I don’t feel some sort of phantom limb syndrome when I forget my phone at home.

It would be an over statement to say losing the blackberry was one of the best things to happen in my life. I would say though that it has definitely increased the quality of it. Downgrading has helped to decrease distraction and forced me to be present in the moment. I wasn’t sure if I would last long without a smart phone and now that it’s been a year I’m not sure if I could ever go back.

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A Perfect Saturday

My Happy Place taken by Twin

I tend to do a lot during the week; book events, soccer, volleyball, dinners with friends, prayer group, bible study etc. By the time Friday afternoon rolls around I’m crossing my fingers that the outlook for the weekend is a big blank on the calendar. I need a lot of time to re-charge and Saturday is my time to do that. My perfect Saturday starts with sleeping in, only opening my eyes when I’m good and ready and not when the alarm begins to blare. An hour of answering emails and messing around on Pinterest. Then a nice, full home made breakfast. This time I made a baked egg dish with sauteed spinach, a side of bacon and a cup of orange juice. My perfect Saturday always includes time spent with a good book and a good friend. This time I went with Book Twin to Lennox Coffee and dove into The Fault in Our Stars by John Green along with a latte and lovely company. After spending a few hours there chatting and reading I like to come home and relax. This time I indulged in beloved British television (Downton Abbey). I have introduced Book Twin to the wonderful world of British telly so we watched together and gasped at all the right moments. I almost choked on my water when they found out the bad thing they thought happened actually didn’t. Then again when there was a big surprise (I hate when tv is spoiled for me so I won’t give anything away in case you watch Downton). A nice home made dinner and finishing up the book I started earlier is how I like to round off the day (as I did this past one). I sometimes forget how serene it is to spend quality time with a book and a good friend. I am constantly bombarded with a non-stop onslaught of things to do, people to meet, places to go etc. that I feel endlessly harried. So when I get a Saturday to myself this is how I like to spend it.

Rings & Things

The Ring - stolen from Jr's instagram

My sister got engaged this week. It doesn’t feel real, maybe it’s because she’s clear across the country and I didn’t get a chance to be there to celebrate with her. Mostly I think it’s because I’m not sure how to get my head around the idea that my little sister is going to be a wife. I’m also afraid this is going to change everything.

I’m really close to my siblings. Growing up our parents always encouraged us to be a team. I can still hear my mom saying “Even if you don’t have anybody else in the world you’ll always have your brother and sister.” Familial relationships are of course more complicated than that but I’ve operated under this instruction for pretty much my whole life. It only occurs to me now that I might have thought it would always be like this; me, Julie and Jr against the world. Now I find myself adjusting expectations.

I’m probably wrong of course. My defensive pessimism always gets me a bit moody and acts as a little rain cloud on happy occasions.  I remember talking to Julie’s now fiance about the idea of them getting married. I specifically remember saying “Please don’t take my sister away from us” as if we would never see her again after they exchanged vows. I know that’s dumb headed.

Wade has proven himself to be a good and honest man who really loves my sister. He knows how important we are to one another. In a way he’s been trying out for our little team for quite a while.  He’s been in California for the past year or so, I think he worked it so he could finally be in the same place as Julie but also to get to know my family a little better. Last summer he accompanied us on a family trip to Maine. The whole clan stopped in New York for a few days to check out the city before we made our way north. We spent about a week together on one of our usual whirlwind vacations touring New York, Maine and Boston. It was evident to me on that trip that Wade had been spending a lot of time with my family. He was at ease with my parents and my brother in a way that I haven’t really seen in any other significant other that has been introduced into the fold. It was also evident to me how happy my sister was with him and that he was very different from the others that my sister has dated. I am the naysayer in my family (surprise, surprise) when it comes to significant others. I’m pretty vocal when I have reservations about someone. Any doubts I may have had about Wade were squashed after that trip. I knew their engagement was imminent.

Now here we are. Julie with a ring on her finger and a wedding to come. I’m genuinely happy for them both. They managed to work through some pretty major obstacles (distance, deployment, etc.) and it feels right that it has come to this. Even though I tend to be curmudgeonly, I am a sucker for a love story and a wedding. It will likely change things, but I know it’s going to be fine. I’ll still always have my sister. Now I get a new brother and another addition to our team.

2011 Recap

Photo taken at a really old library in Manchester

Wow, this year really flew by. It has also been quite a long time since I last posted, hope you didn’t miss me too much. On Christmas day I went to lunch with a few friends and we shared our highlights and low-lights of the year. My roommate says I cheated by using the same thing for both, but it’s true. My highlight and low-light of this year was the steady parade of visitors. Starting in April I had someone stay with me every month for an average of one week. Don’t get me wrong, I love when people come to visit. I experience this particular brand of joy when I get a chance to show off this city for people. My visitors are people I love and am close to, so I want to spend as much time with them as possible. The flip side for me is that I’m always exhausted; I’m either currently sleep deprived or catching up on sleep. My store of social reserves also become dangerously depleted.  I gather strength from my alone time and the lack of it reduces me to a puddle of whiny tears.  I thought about all that I said at lunch that day and realized how lucky I am that my biggest complaint of this year was that I didn’t get as much sleep because so many people that I love came out to see me and we got to have fun together in New York.

Other random highlights of the year:

-Family vacation (NY, Maine, & Boston). Eating a ludicrous amount of lobster at the Maine Lobster Festival.

-Riding the subway with Kian & Krista.

-The smug satisfaction in knowing that Jared doesn’t hate New York anymore.

-Fancy dinner with Melanie at Babbo.

-Many fun evenings filled w/ good beer and interesting conversation w/ Megan

-Book Twin adventures

-Visiting Robin in England (esp. Mumford & Sons in Hyde Park)

-Shuler time in So-Cal

-Sneaking onto the Spiderman set w/ Ivan

-Getting into the usual shenanigans w/ the Nikkei bunch

-Fun day in So-Cal w/ Ange, Ric, Meg & Rambo

-Quality time with the siblings (Jr in NY, Julie in Sac)

-Many excellent meals at supper club

-Realizing I still have plenty of love for California on my recent visit in November

-Every single moment I got to spend with my family

I’m thankful for so much and looking forward to what 2012 will bring. I hope it brings both you and me lots of opportunities to see what we’re made of. Happy New Year!